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FCC mulls best use of 4.9 GHz band

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 1:56pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

The FCC has adopted rules allocating 50 MHz of spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band for fixed and mobile wireless services.

The Commission is now seeking comment on various issues, including licensing and services rules for the band.

The spectrum will allow public safety users to set up temporary mesh networks that support data, voice and video communications at scenes of emergencies; monitor sensitive locations remotely with point-to-point video links; and set up citywide Wi-Fi networks to give first responders dedicated broadband access, the FCC said in an announcement Wednesday.

Additionally, the Commission contends that the 4.9 GHz band holds great potential to complement the 700 MHz national public safety broadband network for backhaul, facilitate safer operation of critical infrastructure and utilities, and provide wireless broadband connectivity in remote or sparsely populated locations.

The Commission is asking for comment on a range of issues regarding the spectrum. The FCC asked whether to establish formal coordination requirements in the 4.9 GHz band, such as a registration system and the creation of a database of users of the spectrum. The FCC also asked to what extent expanding eligibility to critical infrastructure entities and commercial users would promote more effective and efficient use of the band.

The Commission said it has tentatively concluded that allowing non-public safety entities to obtain licenses directly rather than having to enter into sharing arrangements with public safety licensees would remove a barrier to entry and stimulate more investment in the band.

The Commission also asked for comment on whether the 4.9 GHz band could support the 700 MHz network through the offloading of fixed video and backhaul applications.

APCO International, one the world’s largest organizations of public safety communications professionals, said it approved of the FCC’s move.

“We are pleased that the Commission is initiating a new proceeding to address how public safety use of the 4.9 GHz band can be made more productive and efficient,” APCO International President Gregg Riddle said.

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